Since launching 15 years ago today, Mike's Hard Lemonade has survived through booms and busts in the flavored-malt-beverage category, fending off competition from the likes of Diageo and Anheuser-Busch. But as the category enters another boom phase, Mike's might be in for its biggest challenge yet.
So-called FMBs are growing again at impressive rates thanks to demand from flavor-seeking millennial drinkers. That means Mike's must fight harder to keep -- and grow -- its share as big brewers again flood the market with fruity and tangy brands, including A-B InBev's rapidly expanding Bud Light Lime margarita-inspired franchise.
As it responds, Mike's is making significant changes, including moving off TV to an all-digital approach. That is a notable change for a marketer that in 2012 and 2013 spent a combined $18.9 million on TV ads, according to Kantar Media. Digital offers an ability to "reach consumers more frequently through more targeted messaging and at different moments of truth for them," said Sanjiv Gajiwala, Mike's director of marketing activation.